The privilege of knowing a great man
I wanted to give this important obituary the headline, The Man Who Would Be King, only to stop and think, “No, wait a minute, he was,“ no matter the odds (family politics) were stacked against him.
But let me begin at the beginning. And please bear with me for the first two paragraphs or so, wherein you will find why this great man and I just clicked.
The first time I ever heard of Arif Nizami or Arif bhai, as I called him, was when The Nation hired me to join its launch team in 1986, and as a nondescript nobody at the time, put in my two pennies’ worth for the launch of the paper on October 1, 1986. All I knew about him then was that he was a scion of the Nizami’s, heir to the Nawa-i-Waqt group of newspapers. He made The Nation one of the top English language newspapers in Pakistan. As for me, I did very badly at The Nation since selling ad space — or anything, for that matter — was never my cup of tea. I just could not beg, nor make folks believe what was not true, nor mislead clients nor grovel.
Fast forward to 2010, Arif Nizami and I were dinner guests at a leading diplomat’s home, and once we proceeded to the dinner table, I had the privilege of the great man being seated beside me, to my left. It was when we really got to know each other, striking up a conversation of our own while recognising that we both enjoyed the finer things in life. The camaraderie was instantaneous, and I felt as though I had known him for years.
That was the kind of man he was, a big man, not in stature but character. He made you feel at home in his company, whether personal or professional. This was when he lured me into helping him name Pakistan Today and help form and run it. Arif Nizami subsequently made the paper such a roaring success that it gave the conventional English newspapers a run for their money.
Arif Nizami will be sorely missed by not only his fans such as me, but by all who were touched by his personality, for all great men are humble and make lesser mortals feel at home in their company, the loss of which we are all the poorer for.
Goodbye, Arif Nizami, till we meet again.
The writer is a senior journalist and editor/CEO NewsroomPakistan.com